Your long-distance relationship is progressing extremely well. Everyone senses your potential to be a power couple for Christ. You can’t wait to get married and start doing ministry together.
The only problem is the ever-present elephant in the room: You’re apart right now.
I know the frustration of that elephant. You focus all your energy on figuring out how to evacuate the elephant from the room. You draft a plan for how you’ll maximize all that empty space.
A Christ-centered vision of marriage is wonderful and worth pursuing. But when we focus too much on the future, we miss the beauty in the in-between.
Your time apart is precious and limited. In comparison, you will have years and years to experience life with your husband if you get married.
So, how can you make the most of this season? Unlike your time as a girlfriend, your options are limitless. Here are five ways to avoid wasting your precious time apart.
1. Dig into Scripture
1 Corinthians 7:34 says, “An unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.”
To be honest, I’m not sure I lived out that verse while we were dating. There were many times when I was more anxious about the things of love than the things of the Lord.
If I were to go back, I would devote more time to reading God’s Word and less to re-reading our love letters. The Bible is where we learn “how to be holy” and where God begins to transform our hearts.
If you’re not sure how to read your Bible deeply or you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, Jen Wilkin can skillfully walk you through a Scripture-studying method in her book Women of the Word.
2. Serve others
Another aspect of sanctification, or becoming holy, is serving others. The Bible teaches us to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13) and “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
Not-so-coincidentally, that second verse precedes a key passage on marriage. Christian marriage is all about selflessly serving one another, so you might want to start practicing.
There are so many ways to pour your life out to meet others’ needs. You can serve your church community by holding babies in the nursery, greeting newcomers at the door, or singing on the stage. You can serve your local and global communities by reaching out to international students, raising awareness about human trafficking, or tutoring elementary kids.
Whatever you do, serve in a way that glorifies God (Colossians 3:17).
3. Remember your parents
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). These words were recorded after the world’s first wedding, drawing attention to the truth that marriage should fundamentally change your relationship with your parents.
This transition in thinking was difficult for me. I’m close with both of my parents, and I value their opinions immensely. While I still seek their guidance, my primary allegiance is now with my husband. I often need to choose to agree with him over pleasing them.
This transition was also difficult for my parents. While they love my husband, they’re having to learn how to share me with him.
If you’re moving toward marriage, I would encourage you to intentionally carve out time with your parents. Show them you appreciate how much they’ve done for you, and let them know your love for them will never change.
For those of you who have a rough past with your parents, this could be a time to begin a process of healing. Like it or not, planning a wedding usually happens in coordination with your parents, and everyone will benefit if you soothe tensions early.
4. Invest in friendships
Your parents aren’t the only ones who will be seeing less of you when you get married. Part of loving your spouse will require you to sacrifice the freedom to be with friends whenever you want, and this change can be difficult for close friends to understand.
Enjoy this time you can devote to other gals. Stay up to bake cookies at midnight. Take the spontaneous road trip to a national park. Recommend a series for a roommate movie marathon. You will cherish those memories for years to come, even as you are making new memories with your husband.
Dating is also a good time to tackle the tougher sides of friendship. Living with roommates will inevitably cause conflicts over mundane issues like washing the dishes and taking out the trash, and you will face these same struggles with a roommate you’re married to.
If you can learn how to love people when you don’t feel like it and resolve conflicts in a godly manner, you will be way ahead in the journey of becoming a wife.
5. Mentor a younger woman
God is teaching you so much in this season of long-distance dating. Why not share what you’re learning with others?
Most gals are open to an invitation for coffee and a conversation when you express a sincere desire to be their friend. As you get to know one another, you can tell your story and demonstrate how God has worked in your life. The themes of patience in suffering and love with sacrifice can spur some sweet gospel opportunities.
A younger woman who is also in a dating relationship might be particularly responsive to your invitation. Your ability to relate to her struggles and joys might open her ears to hear the gospel. Using Biblical wisdom and your personal experiences, you can encourage her to glorify Christ in her life and relationship.
Make The Best Use of the Time
Waiting for marriage is hard, and knowing God is using this time to grow you doesn’t make it easier.
Still, God has you where you are for a reason. Embrace that elephant in the room while it’s here, “making the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:15).